This is another of my collaborations with the stylish and very elegant Rhonda over at 50 Shades of Gray Hair. This one was more of a challenge for me as Rhonda supplied the pictures and I wrote the story around them. I have loved working with her and not only is she a great photographer and a perfectionist but a generous spirited soul too. So on behalf of myself and my team-mate we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
I opened the letter with trembling hands; the one that I had been waiting weeks for. It had arrived in the morning post but I had crumpled it into my pocket and delayed reading it until my Mum had left for work. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share it with her but I just didn’t want to feel guilty either.
Mum and I had always been close but after Dad died Mum had worked hard cleaning houses nevertheless she’d made sure that I had never gone without and she always found the money to send me on school trips and for other small treats somehow. Both my parents had never hidden from me that I was adopted in fact Mum used to say I was a special gift from the angels and there wasn’t a single day when I didn’t feel secure or loved.
So when I reached eighteen I decided to try to contact my birth mother which I knew must have been hard on Mum. I’d always been able to talk to Mum apart from those difficult teenage years when I was permanently angry and would have started a fight in an empty room. Mum hid the hurt that my harsh words caused and ignored my unreasonable behaviour.
So I was surprised a few years later when a letter arrived out of the blue from my birth mother; from then on we exchanged letters regularly until the day I suggested that we meet up. It was a few agonising weeks before she wrote back recommending that we meet in a popular café bar in town.
That weekend, I’d spent forever getting myself ready, selecting and discarding countless outfits until I realised that I was going to be late if I didn’t leave straightaway. Walking into the almost empty bar with my family photos tucked away inside my bag, I spotted her almost immediately, glamorous, elegant and perched on the edge of a leather Chesterfield sofa drinking Chardonnay. We introduced ourselves and hugged awkwardly. After ordering drinks we settled down to getting to know each other better. She showed me pictures of her and her husband in their imposing house, in their sleek sports car and exotic locations around the world and I couldn’t help but be impressed and think “what if”. As we talked she said that she had lived in the locality for quite some time and had married her husband a short time after giving birth but having married young they both felt that they needed a fresh start and a baby would have been a burden that a young couple starting out simply didn’t need or want.
When the afternoon became early evening she continued to boast about her gold credit card and their next Caribbean cruise, I realised that this stranger was clearly incapable of making the inevitable sacrifices that is a fundamental part of being a parent. She confided in me that her husband had an important meeting in the city and subsequently, had been unable to accompany her. I sensed a deep loneliness and I suspected that she was frequently unaccompanied. She ordered another Chardonnay but despite her half-hearted protests I made my excuses and bade her farewell leaving her sitting all alone; a sad forlorn figure. I understood then that my expectations had been impossibly high and I wondered if I had disappointed her as much as she had me. I left the cafe bar with a lighter heart knowing that any further meeting would be unlikely and glad that I didn’t share more than genes with this outsider. My parents had never once made me feel like I was a burden and I had always known that I was the sun, sea and stars for them. Sure I didn’t live in a palace and there were very few holidays and other luxuries over the years but I wouldn’t have swapped a single precious second with them. It was late when I returned home and as I opened the kitchen door, Mum was sat at the kitchen table hemming a new dress I had bought the other week. I noticed that her hair seemed a little greyer and her laughter lines a little deeper; she jumped up when she saw me “Fancy some cocoa, Love?
I rested my hand lightly on her shoulder and said “I’ll do it”. As I busied myself making the cocoa, Mum carried on sewing. As I placed two mugs on the table she looked up and said nervously “Everything go all right, Angel”?
I grasped her work-worn hands across the table and saw the concern in her tired blue eyes. “Mum, I really don’t tell you often enough but the angels knew what they were doing when they gave me to you and I am truly grateful for the love I have received because I know that wherever you are, I am home”.